Do you remember Fantastic Voyage? It was a movie (you might be too young to remember it but it made a sensation when it came out in 1966) on a submarine that was shrunk (with all its crew) to the point of being possible to inject it in the arteries of a person with the mission to reach that person brain and remove a clot. There were, of course, several twists to the story (it was a thriller) but my interest was on the ability to travel inside the body using blood stream to reach the brain and work on it from the “inside”.
It seems that the idea of using the blood stream to get to the brain using a sort of vessel has captivated the imagination of other people as well. A team of researchers at the Catholic University of Seoul, South Korea, has devised a way to modify stem cells by introducing iron nanoparticle in their cytoplasm. This makes the cells sensitive to magnetic fields and using a magnetic field it becomes possible to guide the cell through the arteries and capillaries to the exact point in the brain when they need to be to replace the damaged neurones. This cells are becoming a sort of micro-bots, and they are calling them cellbots, that can be used, in principle, for a variety of medical “fixings”.
The researchers have demonstrated the viability of the approach guiding the stem “cellbots” through a complex maze of microfluidic channels simulating the brain of a mouse. They will now move on with their experimentation to seek approval for medical use.